The National Corridors Initiative Logo

March 13, 2017
Vol. 17 No. 10

Copyright © 2017
NCI Inc., All Rights Reserved
Founded 1989
Our 17th Newsletter Year


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

James P. RePass, Sr.
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 Editorial…
Almost 90 Percent Of Public Transit Trips
   Impact Economy
  Commuter Lines…
LACMTA To Evaluate Proposal To Turn Orange
   Line BRT To Light Rail
  Restoration Lines…
Moorman: Amtrak Committed To Reviving Gulf
   Coast Service
  Selected Rail Stocks…
  Freight Lines…
CSX Agrees To Hire Hunter Harrison As CEO
  Across The Pond…
Zürich Orders 70 LRVs
  To The North…
Amtrak’s Adirondack On Track To Benefit From
   Customs Legislation
John Vanthof Intends To Push For The Train’s
   Reinstatement To Become Part Of The New
   Democratic Party Platform
Province To Review Commuter Rail Options
   For Victoria Area
  Publication Notes …

GUEST EDITORIAL... Guest Editorial...  

APTA Lines

Almost 90 Percent Of Public Transit
Trips Impact Economy

From The American Public Transportation Association
Via Progressive Railroading

Nearly 90 percent of public transit trips impact the economy by connecting people to employers, retail and entertainment venues, according to a recent study by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA).

Authored by CJI Research Corp., the “Who Rides Public Transportation” study was based on 700,000 passenger surveys conducted between 2008 and 2015, APTA officials said in a press release.

Forty-nine percent of riders reported using public transit to get to or from work, while 21 percent said they used transit to shop. An additional 17 percent rode transit for “recreational spending” in their local economies, according to the report.

“The data is clear: Public transit riders’ impact on the economy has grown tremendously over the last 10 years,” said APTA Acting President and Chief Executive Officer Richard White. “As the new Congress and administration look to boost the economy, investing in America’s public transportation infrastructure should be a key element of that plan.”

The study also found that 65 percent of respondents had a driver’s license, while 55 percent of public transit users were women.

For the study (PDF) go to:

From an article appearing at:

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COMMUTER LINES... Commuter Lines...  

Public-Private Partnerships.

LACMTA To Evaluate Proposal To
Turn Orange Line BRT To Light Rail

By Mischa Wanek-Libman
Rail Track And Structures

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LACMTA) has received an unsolicited proposal from Fluor Enterprises, Inc., to accelerate conversion of the Orange Line from bus rapid transit to light rail through a public-private partnership.

This is the first proposal LACMTA has received for this Measure M project and the tenth proposing an alternative delivery method for a major capital project. The transit agency recently advanced unsolicited proposals for two mega projects in the Los Angeles region.

“Thanks to the voters who supported Measure M, the private sector is taking the opportunity to work with Metro,” said LACMTA Board Chair John Fasana. “[LACMTA’s] thoughtful approach to exploring innovations can help ensure the voters receive the best return on their investment.”

LACMTA’s Office of Extraordinary Innovation is now in the process of assembling a Phase 1 review team to evaluate the concept on its financial and technical merit.

“Our call for unsolicited proposals has prompted this proposal and we see that as proof positive that we are stimulating excitement in the private sector for Metro projects,” said LACMTA CEO Phillip A. Washington. “These proposals can be game changers in delivering better mobility to our region sooner than expected.”

The review team will be charged with reaching a decision on whether to advance the proposal to the next phase of review, decline further review or proceed directly to a competitive solicitation.

“Since we announced our new unsolicited proposal policy to the public one year ago, we have been gratified by the strong response,” said LACMTA Chief Innovation Officer Joshua Schank. “We are seeing innovation at its best in the proposals and we look forward to delivering projects and programs – supported by P3s – to improve the quality of life of our region.”

Since opening in 2005 between North Hollywood and Warner Center in Woodland Hills, LACMTA says the 18-mile Orange Line has exceeded even the most liberal ridership projections. In 2012, it was extended from Canoga Park to the Chatsworth Metrolink and Amtrak station. It is the busiest bus route in the San Fernando Valley. Light rail conversion of the Orange Line has the potential to save 15 minutes of travel time and increase capacity between 250 percent and 580 percent.

The Orange Line BRT was constructed on old rail right-of-way and the idea of converting it to light rail has been gaining as ridership has grown.

In April 2015, LACMTA’s “The Source” blog touched on the possible conversion of the corridor to light rail and estimated the cost to between $1.2 billion to $1.6 billion. Additionally, the conversion would require detailed environmental reviews, two to three years of construction and space to build a rail vehicle maintenance yard.

Found at:

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RESTORATION LINES... Restoration Lines...  

Moorman: Amtrak Committed To
Reviving Gulf Coast Service

From Progressive Railroading

Amtrak President and Chief Executive Officer Wick Moorman has pledged support for restoring service from New Orleans to Orlando, Fla., along the Gulf Coast.

Service along the corridor has been suspended since Hurricane Katrina hit the region in 2005.

In a March 3 letter to Southern Rail Commission (SRC) Chairman Greg White, Moorman emphasized Amtrak’s “firm commitment to the Gulf Coast project,” along with the railroad’s interest and support for other projects underway in the region.

SRC also is pushing to implement Amtrak service between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, La., and to extend the railroad’s long-distance Crescent service west of Meridian, Miss.

Although those two projects “are not as close to fruition,” Amtrak strongly supports them and will continue working with the commission and Gulf Coast states to obtain necessary commitments from host railroads to advance them, Moorman wrote.

“We are committed to operating both the long-distance and corridor services on the Gulf Coast route as soon as the necessary funding can be arranged, and the necessary agreements are in place to implement the service,” Moorman said.

SRC officials hailed the letter as “what may be Amtrak’s strongest showing of support in print” for Gulf Coast service.

The letter also was presented to Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards at the SRC’s first quarterly meeting this year. Edwards has voiced support for the commission’s work, SRC officials said in a press release.

The SRC advocates for passenger-rail service in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

From an item at:

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STOCKS...    Selected Rail Stocks...
BRKB – Burlington Northern Santa Fe

CNI – Canadian National

CP –  Canadian Pacific

CSX – CSX Corp

GWR – Genessee & Wyoming

KSU – Kansas City-Southern

NSC – Norfolk Southern

PWX – Providence & Worcester

UNP – Union Pacific

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FREIGHT LINES... Freight Lines...  

CSX Agrees To Hire Hunter Harrison As CEO

Dow Jones Newswires
Via Fox Business News

CSX Corp. has agreed to appoint Hunter Harrison as its next chief executive, people familiar with the matter said, giving the railroad veteran a four-year contract to slash costs and revamp one of the country’s biggest railways.

His appointment ends an unusual contest with an activist investor who quickly parlayed Mr. Harrison’s popularity with investors into sweeping leadership changes at the railway. Mr. Harrison is expected to take the helm as early as this week, the people said.

Mr. Harrison’s activist partner Paul Hilal, founder of Mantle Ridge LP, won CSX approval to nominate five new directors, including Messrs. Hilal and Harrison, to its current board of 12 directors, the people said. The board is expected to shrink in coming years with retirements, including current Chairman and CEO Michael Ward.

Edward Kelly, an independent CSX director who helped negotiate Mr. Harrison’s move to the Jacksonville, Fla., railway, will replace Mr. Ward as chairman, the people said. Mr. Hilal is set to be named vice chairman.

Mantle Ridge owns a 4.9% stake in CSX, but it wielded extraordinary leverage after news of Mr. Harrison’s CSX ambitions drove the railroad’s stock up by more than 30%. Among the investors who pushed for the railroad to hire Mr. Harrison were mutual-fund giant Fidelity Investments and some managers at Neuberger Berman, people familiar with the matter said.

Mr. Harrison plans to improve profits at CSX by cutting jobs and closing several rail yards, according to people familiar with his plans. As part of this strategy, Mr. Harrison aims to shift some of CSX’s operations away from Rust Belt states such as Michigan and Pennsylvania to more economically vibrant Southern states.

CSX’s offer to Mr. Harrison, 72 years old, includes the award of substantial stock options if he fulfills his promise to boost the railway’s profits, the people familiar with the matter said. Details of the compensation package couldn’t be learned. The railroad had previously objected to the size of the compensation package requested by Messrs. Hilal and Harrison.

Mr. Harrison resigned as CEO of Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. in January to join Mantle Ridge’s bid to shake up CSX’s management.

CSX’s board didn’t approve Mantle Ridge’s demand for more than $80 million to cover its cost of compensating Mr. Harrison for benefits surrendered when he resigned as CEO of CP. Instead, the board plans to ask shareholders to vote on the payment at the company’s next annual meeting, according to people familiar with the matter. Mr. Harrison is entitled to resign from CSX if the shareholders reject the payment, the people said.

Mr. Harrison’s new job marks his fourth and potentially most challenging turnaround assignment in a career that began more than 50 years ago, when he was hired by a Memphis railway to lubricate railcar axles. He subsequently won a strong reputation among investors after turning around Illinois Central Railway, Canadian National Railway Co. and CP with his so-called precision railway strategy of slashing labor costs and setting tight controls on train schedules.

CSX will be a thornier challenge because its rail network in the eastern U.S. is significantly larger and more dependent on struggling freight customers such as coal producers.

Another concern is Mr. Harrison’s age and health, following a serious bout of pneumonia and other health issues in 2015. The executive’s doctors have recently cleared him to continue working, according to one person close to Mr. Harrison.

Even as CSX’s board negotiated with Mantle Ridge, the rail operator began making changes to slim down and shift to a more efficient rail network. The company said last month it would lay off up to 1,000 management employees, saving at least $175 million in annual costs.

Last week, CSX said several longtime executives in its operating division would retire and it would reorganize the network around fewer corridors in an effort to eliminate costly and time-consuming crew changes, according to an internal memo reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

From an item appearing at:

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

Zürich Orders 70 LRVs

By Dan Templeton
International Railway Journal

Zürich Public Transport (VBZ) signed a contract with Bombardier for the delivery of 70 seven-section Flexity low floor LRVs on March 2, with an option for another 70 vehicles.

The contract is valued at SFr 300m ($US 296m), and the first LRV will be delivered at the end of 2019.

Bombardier says the trams are customized to integrate with the Zürich city landscape and they meet standards for safety, environment and energy consumption. The trams are designed to reduce noise and offer barrier-free access to passengers with limited mobility.

The LRVs have an open design to improve passenger flow and increase capacity by around 20%.

“All of the Flexity components have been intelligently integrated and reflect the latest technological developments to reduce overall operating costs,” says Dr Guido Schoch, director of VBZ. “Likewise, our passengers will also benefit greatly from the exceptional safety and ergonomics that these modern trams offer.”

The Zürich tram service operates on 15 lines and over 170km of track.

Found at:

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TO THE NORTH... To The North...  

Amtrak’s Adirondack On Track To
Benefit From Customs Legislation

Plan Would Streamline Customs Clearance Stops Near Canadian Border

By Eric Anderson
The Albany Times Union

Each day Amtrak’s Adirondack services face uncertainty at the Canadian border. Will customs and immigration clearances take 30 minutes? An hour? Two hours?

The result: By the time the Adirondack gets to the Capital Region, it’s often late.

A multi-year effort to move customs formalities to the downtown Montreal train station, the Adirondack’s northern terminus, is moving ahead. Under the plan, U.S. and Canadian customs officers would clear passengers on their arrival and before their departure. The trains would no longer have to stop at the border.

Congress has passed the necessary legislation and former President Barack Obama signed it.

The Canadian Parliament is currently considering it, but is also expected to approve it, a top Amtrak official told the Times Union on Saturday.

“It’s simply a matter of time,” said Ed Courtemanch, Amtrak’s senior director for service planning, who was in Schenectady for the annual meeting of the Empire State Passengers Association, a rail advocacy organization.

But will President Donald Trump also support the streamlined border processing? After all, he’s pushing for a wall along the country’s other border, the one with Mexico.

Courtemanch pointed out that Trump has been supportive of pre-clearance initiatives with Canada.

“We demonstrate daily that security and efficiency go hand-in-hand, and we are building a 21st century border through initiatives such as pre-clearance of people and integrated cross-border law enforcement operations,” Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a joint statement issued Feb. 13, when Trudeau visited Washington.

They went on to mention pre-clearance three more times.

Still, hurdles remain.

Courtemanch said that, following full ratification of the pre-clearance initiative, agencies from both governments will meet to determine the physical facilities they need, and how to pay for them.

Finding the necessary funds could be a challenge, Courtemanch admitted.

“Is funding ever not a problem?” he asked.


Photo: Luanne M. Ferris/ Times Union File

Amtrak celebrates the return of the ‘Adirondack’. The train follows the northbound route of the service from New York city to Montreal. Here the train is reintroduced to the public as it breaks the banner on the tracks at the Rensslear Station in September of 1996.

U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko, an Amsterdam Democrat who also spoke Saturday, said he worries that domestic discretionary spending will have to be cut drastically as Trump pushes for the $22 billion Mexican wall and for an additional $54 billion in military spending.

“They also want to reduce taxes for the top one percent,” Tonko said. “That means discretionary spending will be put at risk.”

And that raises uncertainty that money can be found for the pre-clearance facilities at Montreal.

Bruce Becker, vice president of operations for the National Association of Railroad Passengers, said that while Trump has included railways in his plans for $1 trillion in infrastructure spending, details have been sparse.

“We have no idea what’s going to happen this year,” Becker said. But he also said that support for Amtrak in Congress is broad.

Courtemanch, meanwhile, will wait to see what happens with pre-clearance.

“This is just a matter of money and time,” he said. “If people really want it, it can happen.”

From an article at:

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John Vanthof Intends To Push For The
Train’s Reinstatement To Become Part
Of The New Democratic Party Platform

By Gord Young
The Nugget

It’s been five years since the Ontario, Canada Liberals cancelled the Northlander passenger train, but John Vanthof says his office still hears regularly from residents who want the service reinstated.

“To this day, we have on a weekly basis people coming to our office to lament the fact they do have a train,” said the Timiskaming-Cochrane MPP, who heard similar concerns while in North Bay Friday.

Vanthof attended an event organized by the local New Democratic party (NDP) riding association at Twiggs Coffee Roasters on McKeown Avenue to speak about the transportation needs of residents in this part of the province and other issues facing the North.

Concerns regarding a lack of transportation infrastructure in Northern Ontario that were raised to Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne during a visit to North Bay in January was the catalyst for the event.

At the time, Nipissing University Student Union president Jordan Andrews expressed his frustration with the transportation system during a discussion with Wynne and other students. And he reiterated those concerns at Twiggs Friday.

Vanthof said he often hears from students in need of transportation to and from school and seniors with medical needs.

“For a lot of seniors,  that’s the only way to travel. When you’re 80 years old, spending seven or eight hours on the bus is not an option,” he said, noting some seniors have packed up moved from his riding because passenger rail service is longer on option. “They’re having to leave this area because of the lack of train service.”

Vanthof said the New Democrats included the reinstatement of the Northlander in its campaign platform during the last election. And, he said, he will push for it to be a plank in the party’s next platform.

“I’m going to push for it,” he said.

The event, attended by more than dozen people, including some party supporters and union leaders at Ontario Northland, also focused on the need for a louder voice for Northerners at Queen’s Park.

Vanthof said he plans to once again table a  motion in June calling on the provincial legislature to establish a standing committee comprised of members from Northern ridings to deal with Northern issues.

“Southern MPPs don’t understand our issues. They just don’t,” he said, suggesting there would be a lot agreement among Northern members on Northern issues despite their political differences.

From an article appearing at:

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Province To Review Commuter Rail Options
For Victoria Area

Business Case To Be Completed For Commuter Transit Options
On E&N Rail Line Between Vic West And Langford

From CBC, Canada

The province is taking a closer look at options to bring commuter rail service back in the Victoria area, but Transportation Minister Todd Stone has stopped short of making a commitment to restore train service.

Instead Stone said a working group will be formed to complete a business case for commuter rail on the old E&N Rail corridor between Vic West and Langford. Municipal governments, and B.C. Transit will also provide input.

“We think this idea has merit. We think that this idea could add transit capacity,” Stone said at the announcement Thursday morning at an old E&N Rail stop at Admirals Road and Colville Road.

Trains stopped running on the E&N corridor in 2011 because of issues with the tracks.


Photo:  Alasdair McLellen / Wikipedia

VIA rail operated the daily Malahat service on the old E and N railway until recently.

Mayors in the capital region have been pushing for transit service on the 15-kilometre stretch between Westhills in Langford and Vic West to help ease growing traffic snarls on Highway 1.

“The province is aware that Langford, Sooke and the western communities have been growing quickly and are projected to continue to grow significantly,” Stone said.

The E&N rail line is owned by the Island Corridor Foundation, which has been working for several years to resume passenger rail service.

Victoria council endorsed a motion in the fall of 2016 to look at the viability of a commuter train on the line.

A developer has also come up with a proposal for commuter train service along the rail corridor from Langford to Vic West.

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From an item at:

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PUBLICATION NOTES...  Publication Notes...

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