The National Corridors Initiative Logo

April 18, 2016
Vol. 16 No. 15

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...

  Guest Opinion…
Sound Transit Needs Your Voice On Light Rail
  Expansion Lines…
Is Amtrak Coming Back To The Gulf Coast?
MassDOT Continues Meetings On MBTA’s
   Green Line Extension
Heartland Flyer Gets A Bus Connection To Kansas
  Funding Lines…
Amtrak Car Contracts Are Likely To Be Missed
   As Result Of USA-Made Requirements
House Members Refuse DC Subway System’s
   Plea For More Funds
  High-Speed Rail…
Latest Plan For California’s High-Speed Rail Calls
   For Tunnel Into San Fernando Valley
 
  Selected Rail Stocks …
  Political Lines…
New York MTA Leaves APTA As Agency Member
  Freight Lines…
CP Calls It Quits; Steps Away From NS Merger
  Safety Lines…
SEPTA To Begin PTC Roll Out Mid-April
  Across The Pond…
Dispatch Controller In Center of Deadly German
   Passenger Train Collision Is Arrested
  Events…
Rail Users Network, Boston, April 29
  Publication Notes …


GUEST OPINION... Guest Opinion...  

Sound Transit Needs Your Voice On Light Rail

By Joe McDermott
King County Council Member
West Seattle Herald News

Anyone who commutes anywhere in our region knows that our transportation infrastructure is not keeping up with the region’s rapid growth. Too many of us are spending hours in our car when we could be spending time with our families.

Estimates suggest delays on our region’s freeways increased 95 percent between 2010 and 2015. Commuters who leave the north end and drive to the eastside wasted $3,300 in time and gas sitting in traffic. Those of us who live in West Seattle are all too familiar with wasted time and gas as we sit in long lines on the West Seattle Bridge waiting to get anywhere we need to be. With the growth only expected to continue (1 million more people in our region by 2040!), we must make bold and meaningful investments in our infrastructure.

Sound Transit is meeting that call to action. The Board released its vision for a regional system made up of expanded light rail, commuter rail, and bus rapid transit. The plan will continuously deliver major light rail projects and other regional transit investments over the next 25 years. When complete, light rail will connect West Seattle and Ballard to downtown Seattle and beyond to Everett, Tacoma and the Eastside.

The plan proposes three light rail stops serving West Seattle -- at the Junction, in Delridge, and Avalon -- and a light rail line from Downtown Seattle to Ballard. Riders from Ballard, West Seattle, and the entire system will be served by a new, second downtown transit tunnel dedicated to just light rail. This tunnel has the potential to double our current capacity to ultimately carry several hundred thousand people each day. Despite the challenges some tunnel projects have faced in Seattle, Sound Transit’s recently completed U-Link project opened ahead of schedule and under budget.

The Sound Transit 3 plan is not just a transportation plan. It is also a plan to create many family wage jobs and to increase affordable, walkable, communities throughout the region. A bold package like this will transform our economy and our neighborhoods.

Since announcing this plan, I’ve heard from many who are disappointed by how long it will take to deliver light rail to these neighborhoods. This only confirms that demand for light rail is strong, and many know that expanding this service will ease their trying commutes.

We saw just how strong demand is for rapid transit when in just its first week in operation, the light rail expansion to Capitol Hill and the University District smashed ridership expectations. Extra train cars were added to many trains to meet the demand. And this record-breaking usage happened while UW was on spring break, Seattle Central was in finals, and before Metro implemented service changes that routed even more riders to light rail.

I’m looking for ways to speed up the timeline for delivering light rail throughout our region. In the meantime, the Sound Transit 3 plan invests in near-term improvements that will begin to ease congestion immediately. For West Seattle and Ballard that means improvements to Rapid Ride C and D that will increase speed and reliability. And Sound Transit is working with state and federal partners to enable buses to use our freeway and highways’ shoulders during peak commute time.

Now, Sound Transit wants to hear from you. Visit www.soundtransit3.com to voice your opinions to help shape the final proposal. And ultimately you, as voters, will decide if our systems grows to match the size of the DC Metro or San Francisco’s BART.

-- Joe McDermott serves as the Chair of the Metropolitan King County Council where he represents West Seattle, parts of Capitol Hill, Pioneer Square, Burien and North Highline (WA). He also is a member of the Sound Transit Board and a resident of the Morgan Junction in West Seattle.

From an opinion piece found at:
http://www.westseattleherald.com/2016/04/13/opinion/op-ed-sound-transit-needs-your-voice-light


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EXPANSION LINES... Expansion Lines...  

Is Amtrak Coming Back To The Gulf Coast?

Bus Service In The Gulf Coast Region Is Weak

Third Of A Series
By David Peter Alan

As a special Amtrak train meandered along the Gulf coast and through northern Florida on its way to Jacksonville two months ago, people lined the right-of-way and cheered. They had not seen a passenger train there since Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast in 2005. The Gulf Coast portion of Amtrak’s Sunset Limited east of New Orleans, which historically ran between New Orleans and Los Angeles, was suspended after the storm, along with all the other trains that had served the Crescent City. It never came back, although the other trains did.

Today, the only ground transportation between New Orleans and any of the points along the old route is on a Greyhound bus. It is possible, but not practical, to get from New Orleans to Jacksonville, Orlando and points in-between by rail. A passenger who leaves New Orleans at 7:00 on Sunday morning would not arrive in Jacksonville until at least 6:55 on Tuesday morning, essentially 49 hours later, and Orlando several hours after that. The same trip, on a through train, took 19 hours until Katrina struck.

There are buses running between some of the stops on the former route between New Orleans and Orlando, but not many of them. In 1971, the former Gulf Wind train made 24 stops between New Orleans and Jacksonville, not counting those endpoints. The 1993-2005 incarnation of the train made only twelve. Five of those locations: Bay St. Louis and Pascagoula in Mississippi, and Crestview, Chipley and Madison in Florida, have no bus service today. Only Lake City and Tallahassee, Florida and Biloxi, Mississippi have bus stations located downtown.

Four other locations along the former route have bus stops, but they are located on highways or arterial roads far from the center of town. The bus station in Gulfport, Mississippi is north of town, but there is limited bus service on Coast Coaches between Gulfport and Biloxi during the day on weekdays only. The bus station in Mobile, Alabama is several miles from downtown. There is local bus service from downtown at certain times, but it is also limited. The same holds for Pensacola, Florida. There is a single daily bus to Atmore, Alabama, but there is no local bus to connect the bus stop with downtown.

So most of the locations on the route have no long-distance buses in their downtown areas, and only a few more have local buses that bring riders downtown from the long-distance bus station. As for frequency, service is sparse. Greyhound bus frequencies have been declining over the last several years, and Gulf Coast service appears to be particularly weak.

Greyhound offers two daily trips between New Orleans and Orlando, but they do not stop at Jacksonville. They take about two hours less than the train took, when it went through Jacksonville. There are also two daily departures from New Orleans to Jacksonville, but the fare is about $20 higher than to Orlando, and passengers must change buses at Mobile and again at Tallahassee. One of those trips has a connection at Tallahassee for Lake City. There are four trips from New Orleans to Pensacola; three in the morning and the other arriving in the middle of the night. All except one require a transfer at Mobile. The evening bus from New Orleans also has a connection to Atmore, but that trip requires an eight-hour overnight layover in Mobile. All four buses to Pensacola also stop at Mobile, and there are no other buses from New Orleans to Mobile. Two of the morning departures from New Orleans also stop at Biloxi and Gulfport, Mississippi, while the other trips do not.

From Florida to New Orleans, the situation is similar, except that there are three departures from Orlando. There are two departures from Lake City to New Orleans, but one requires three transfers, which the other requires only two, while only three buses go from Pensacola to New Orleans. The bus from Atmore also requires an overnight layover in Mobile.

Of the three buses from Mobile to New Orleans, two leave in the middle of the night or early-morning, when local buses do not run between downtown Mobile and the bus station. Local buses only connect with the 2:00 pm departure to New Orleans. That is the only bus that also serves Biloxi and Gulfport, although it does not run on Tuesdays. Nobody can go directly from Biloxi or Gulfport to New Orleans on Tuesdays.

Megabus serves the region, too. It has service between New Orleans, Mobile, Tallahassee and Orlando (as well as between Jacksonville and Orlando, but not going west from Jacksonville). There are three daily trips between New Orleans and Mobile, but some of the service leaves or arrives in Mobile in the middle of the night. Megabus serves downtown Mobile, however. Megabus also runs an overnight bus between New Orleans and Tallahassee, which continues to Gainesville and Orlando in the morning and leaves there in the evening.

It is clear that there is not much bus service in the entire Gulf Coast region, east of New Orleans. It is uncertain how much of the decline in such service in the region was a result of the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina, and how much is the result of the general decline in service on Greyhound. Megabus has added some new service into the mix, but it is always difficult to tell how long any route will last. Megabus is known for discontinuing runs if the company does not believe that ridership is sufficient to keep the particular run, or an entire route, going.

So it is understandable that people in the Gulf Coast region want a train. Unless they use an automobile, they do not have many alternatives. As we reported last week, the schedule that the train ran from 1993 until 2005 was not much of an alternative, either. What sort of schedule for the train would constitute an improvement over the one that was in effect then? We will attempt to answer that question as we conclude this series in our next edition.


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MassDOT Continues Meetings On
MBTA’s Green Line Extension

From Progressive Railroading

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) this week is continuing to hold public meetings on the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s (MBTA) Green Line Extension project.

Due to significant cost overruns, MassDOT in February began a re-evaluation process, which is expected to be completed and submitted to the MBTA’s fiscal and management control board next month.

Upcoming meetings are scheduled for April 27 and May 5.

MassDOT plans to revise the now $3 billion project with reduced capital and overall costs, as well as a new procurement method, department officials said in a blog post. Project elements under reconsideration include reduced station designs, redesign of a vehicle maintenance facility, reconsidering community path options, construction work hour limitation, power signals, and retaining and sound walls.

The original project consisted of two distinct branches: a mainline that would operate within existing right-of-way of the MBTA Lowell Line beginning at a relocated Lechmere Station in Cambridge and traveling north to Medford; and another branch operating within existing right-of-way of the MBTA Fitchburg Line to Union Station in Somerville.

Plans called for seven new stations and a vehicle storage and maintenance facility. Trains would operate every five to six minutes in peak periods once the extension is completed.

Canceling the entire project still remains on the table “until an affordable, feasible alternative has been identified,” MassDOT officials said. However, any decision to cancel must take into account potential legal ramifications and money already spent on the project.

Found at:
http://www.progressiverailroading.com/passenger_rail/news/MassDOT-continues-meetings-on-MBTAs-Green-Line-Extension--47901


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Heartland Flyer Gets a Bus Connection to Kansas

By David Peter Alan

It’s not a train but, for the first time since 1979, passengers on Amtrak’s Southwest Chief can get to Oklahoma, where they can connect with the Heartland Flyer, which can take them to Fort Worth.

Effective today, there is a new Amtrak Thruway bus connection between Oklahoma City and Newton, Kansas, where passengers can connect with the “Chief” toward Chicago or Los Angeles. The bus leaves Oklahoma City at 10:40 pm, one hour and seventeen minutes after the scheduled arrival time of the Heartland Flyer from Fort Worth. The bus stops in Wichita at 1:35 am and arrives at Newton at 2:15. Train #3 to Los Angeles is scheduled to leave Newton at 2:45, while Train #4 to Chicago is scheduled to leave there at 2:55. Returning to Oklahoma, the bus leaves Newton at 4:00, stops at Wichita at 5:00, and arrives in Oklahoma City at 7:35; in time to connect with the train, which leaves at 8:25 for Fort Worth.

Greyhound has relocated its terminal away from downtown Oklahoma City, so passengers connecting with the Heartland Flyer now have the added convenience of a bus that stops directly at the train station in the city’s Bricktown neighborhood. The Wichita bus station is still located downtown in that city.

Advocate Evan Stair, President of Passenger Rail Oklahoma, announced the new service on Thursday through his organization’s web site, www.passengerrailOK.org. He noted: “This is NOT an official Amtrak announcement” (emphasis in original). He also said: “The new service will establish a long desired bridge between the Heartland Flyer and the Southwest Chief trains.” As of Friday, there was no announcement of the new bus in the news releases on the Amtrak web site, www.amtrak.com, but the Amtrak site allowed prospective customers to book a trip using the new bus and one or both of the trains with which it connects.

Stair’s statement continued: “While not a train service; it is a start. Most importantly, you will be able to reach Chicago and St. Louis faster. Kansas City and Wichita will also now be in reach. We hope this will establish enough interest to finally provide a real train service between Fort Worth-Oklahoma City-Wichita-Kansas City. However, we at Passenger Rail Oklahoma and Passenger Rail Kansas caution that thruway buses are a poor indicator of train ridership performance.”

Advocates in the region and elsewhere have been pushing for the extension of the Heartland Flyer to Newton, and eventually with through cars to Kansas City and Chicago. The last through train on the historic Santa Fe route from Chicago to Texas ran in 1979. The train was known as the Texas Chief in pre-Amtrak days and the Lone Star Limited in the 1970s. The train also stopped at Guthrie, Perry and Ponca City in Oklahoma, as well as Arkansas City, Kansas. The major intermediate stop was Wichita, where the new bus also stops. Roger Eliot Carter, Vice-President and Director of the Oklahoma Passenger Rail Association, an unrelated organization, said that when the Heartland Flyer was inaugurated in 1999, it was supposed to go to Newton, but only three days a week. The final result was that the train only runs between Fort Worth and Oklahoma City, but it runs every day.

Carter was elated when he received the news about the new bus. “Now I can take the train from Purcell and catch the bus to Newton” he said, and added: ”I would rather that it would be a train all the way, but this is better than nothing. At least I can save a day of travel either way.” An added benefit for Carter and other Oklahomans is that the early arrival into Oklahoma City and evening departure from there allows same-day bus connections to or from other places that were previously not available. The single daily frequency on Jefferson Lines to and from Chickasha, where Carter lines, is an example.

Meanwhile, there are other rail developments coming to Oklahoma City in the future. A streetcar line that will stop at the Santa Fe Station, where the Heartland Flyer and the Newton bus also stop, is slated to open for service in a few years. Stair also reports progress toward establishing Eastern Flyer train service between Oklahoma City and Tulsa. The Sooner Subdivision, which runs most of the way between the cities, is supposed to be upgraded for 60-mph running. Plans are also proceeding for access to Oklahoma City. Stair’s report questioned Tulsa’s commitment to the project, since access to Tulsa is also needed, but said that plans call for service to begin by August 4, 2019.

It is too early to tell if Oklahoma might be a future site of the rebirth of rail transportation in America. It would be an unlikely candidate, since Oklahoma and Texas were among the first states to get rid of most of their passenger trains in the 1950s and 60s. They also lost one in 1979, but a bus will now restore some of the connectivity that was lost almost 37 years ago. Maybe someday that bus will turn into a train, as local advocates and many other Oklahomans hope it will.


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FUNDING LINES... Funding Lines...  

Amtrak Car Contracts Are Likely To Be Missed
As Result Of USA-Made Requirements

By Clark Mindock
International Business Times

Struggling to comply with made-in-USA requirements, a Japanese company that was hired to make passenger rail cars for Amtrak lines has fallen years behind schedule, and it is likely that the cars won’t be completed before federal funding for the project expires.

Seventy-five percent of the rail cars were funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and were intended to upgrade lines in California, Illinois, Michigan and Missouri. That stimulus money, in order to help struggling American manufacturing during the recession, was required to be built in the United States with domestically sourced components. Should the deadline be missed, in 2017, whatever is left of the $352 million contract left unspent would be sent back to the federal government, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The likelihood that the deadline will be missed has some saying that the U.S.-made requirements made it too difficult to keep on schedule.

“The intent is good, but 100% buy-American has been more of a challenge than we anticipated,” Bruce Roberts, rail and mass transportation chief for the California Department of Transportation, the department overseeing the project, told the Wall Street Journal.

The missed deadline for the cars, which were supposed to focus on crashworthiness, comes after a string of crashes on Amtrak lines in the country. One of the most notable of which was the 2015 Amtrak derailment in Philadelphia, which killed eight and sent 200 to the hospital after a train sped up just before a curve.

States could now be forced to look for alternative funding to upgrade their aging rail systems, which were built in the 1970s and 1980s. The missed deadlines could also leave the company contracted for the cars open to lawsuits that could yield millions of dollars in damage fees to pay for those alternative sources.

From an item at:
http://www.ibtimes.com/amtrak-car-contracts-are-likely-be-missed-result-usa-made-requirements-following-2351450


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House Members Refuse DC Subway System’s
Plea For More Funds

By Nicholas Fandos
New York Times

House Republicans told the leaders of the capital’s beleaguered subway system on Wednesday that they would not “bail you out,” soundly rejecting pleas for more federal funds to support it.

Instead, members of two House subcommittees responsible for oversight of the system, known as Metro, instructed its leaders to make significant organizational reforms and physical repairs before asking for more money.

“I’m not here to make up for bad management. I’m not here to make up for a poor safety record. I’m not here to make up for a lack of action,” said Representative John L. Mica, Republican of Florida, who leads one of the subcommittees, amid a sharp exchange with Metro’s chairman, Jack Evans.

“You are dealing with people who are broke,” Mr. Mica said, referring to the federal government. “I am not going to bail you out.”

The declaration came as lawmakers questioned the agency’s leaders and federal safety oversight officials on a wide range of safety and management concerns brought to the forefront by an unexpected closure of the system last month for an emergency inspection.

The 40-year-old system, once the envy of cities across the country, has been shaken in recent years by mounting concerns over dangerous, aging infrastructure and its finances. Conditions have deteriorated so significantly on some lines that Metro’s leaders have suggested widespread closures for extended periods could be necessary to complete repairs.

Those conditions elicited concern from members of both parties, but the Republicans’ sharpest words came in response to Mr. Evans’s statement that the federal government should give an additional $300 million annually to the system, which it helped build.

The federal government is already contributing $150 million a year to support the system’s capital needs and has four representatives on its 16-member board. But Mr. Evans argued on Wednesday that without a dedicated federal contribution to Metro’s operations — in addition to a new, permanent regional funding source, like a gas or property tax — the system would continue a dangerous decline.

Mr. Evans said specifically that given anticipated capital costs, the loss of a one-time grant and Metro’s $2.5 billion in unfunded pension liabilities, the system’s financial outlook was unsustainable if left unaddressed.

“Mr. Chairman, you are saying you’re not going to give us a dime, really?” Mr. Evans asked Mr. Mica. “This is your system. This is my system. Are you going to put your parents or your kids on this system as it is?”

Mr. Mica said that he was — and that he expected to see widespread firings at the agency, as well as the exhaustion of any unused federal grant money.

The other subcommittee chairman, Representative Mark Meadows, Republican of North Carolina, said that if the government contributed the funds Mr. Evans requested, Metro would have the highest operating costs of any transit system in the country.

“While any system that has been in service for that length of time is bound to have troubles, the WMATA Metro rail system seems to be plagued by dangerous and systemic problems,” Mr. Meadows said in his opening remarks, referring to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.

Representative Gerald E. Connolly, Democrat of Virginia, said he, too, was troubled by Metro’s “decade-long descent into mediocrity,” but argued that Metro was fully using its resources and deserved a helping hand from the federal government, which relies on it to move much of its Washington work force.

Paul J. Wiedefeld, the system’s general manager, said that he had already begun to take the kind of actions recommended by committee members to institute a “culture of safety” at Metro. He said he expected to release a comprehensive maintenance plan soon.

On Tuesday, the agency announced the appointment of Patrick Lavin, a top safety official for New York’s subway and bus system, as its new chief safety officer. The position had been vacant since September, when Mr. Lavin’s predecessor abruptly resigned amid criticism from Metro’s board of how he was handling growing safety concerns.

Members of the subcommittees also criticized the Federal Transit Administration, which took over responsibility for Metro safety last October at the direction of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.

Citing remarks by Christopher A. Hart, the chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, the members questioned whether the Federal Transit Administration — which was empowered to make such takeovers only in recent years — could effectively oversee the system. Mr. Connolly said the better-established Federal Railroad Administration would do a better job.

Mr. Meadows, who pledged to closely monitor the agency in the coming months, ended the hearing by warning against the closure of an entire line of the system for extended repairs — an idea raised by Mr. Evans.

“If I haven’t been clear before, let me be clear: Closing the Blue Line for six months is not an option,” Mr. Meadows said.

From a news item at:
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/14/us/house-members-refuse-washington-subway-systems-plea-for-more-funds.html


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HIGH-SPED RAIL... High-Speed Rail...  

Latest Plan For California’s High-Speed Rail
Calls For Tunnel Into San Fernando Valley

By City News Service
Los Angeles Daily News

Some of the longest rail tunnels in North America would be used to bring California’s high-speed rail tracks from Northern California into the San Fernando Valley, under the latest plan to go before officials on Tuesday.

But the rail line would remain above ground in most of Los Angeles, under the new plan.

The California High-Speed Rail Authority will review the plans at a meeting Tuesday in Anaheim. Construction has already started near Fresno on the first tracks, but funding has not been found for most of the $68 billion project, now on track to be completed in 2025.

Plans to loop the tracks around mountains from Palmdale to Santa Clarita, and then use the existing rail corridor along San Fernando Road to Los Angeles, have been dropped.

Instead, engineers propose to bore tunnels under the mountains at the northeast end of the San Fernando Valley, and drill tunnels as long as 14 miles from Acton to the San Fernando Valley. There would also be bridges and an additional 10 miles of shorter tunnels along the 14 Freeway near Palmdale.

Three tunnel alignments are envisioned, and all three may affect rural neighborhoods at the eastern end of the San Fernando Valley, the state agency said.

The northernmost route, called SR14 because it would parallel the 14 Freeway in Acton, would have 21,717 houses within 300 feet of the center of the above-ground tracks. The other two alignments are called E1 and E2, and have longer tunnels: 22,232 homes would be close to E1, and 14,328 close to E2.

In Burbank, the plan calls for a new high-speed rail station to be built near Bob Hope International Airport, at Hollywood Way. The high-speed tracks would be laid on existing rail property west of the tracks shared by Amtrak, Metrolink and Union Pacific freight trains, from the airport as far south as the 2 Freeway bridges.

There, Metrolink trains would use a new flyover to “blend” in with the high-speed trains, all the combined line could cross the L.A. River on a new bridge near Figueroa Street to arrive at Union Station without using elevated track structures.

A set of proposed tunnels near Dodger Stadium have been rejected, as they would have cost an estimated $260 million per mile and brought trains out in residential neighborhoods in the Frogtown area.

The revised plan also drops plans for a viaduct along Main Street near Chinatown to carry high-speed trains to Union Station, which the agency said would be too noisy for residents.

The agency notes there had been talk of an elevated high-speed tracks above Union Station, but said this week that Metro has plans now for a new “flow through” tracks at Union Station and over the 101 Freeway, to handle high-speed and Metrolink/Amtrak service to the south and east.

The shared-use tracks would affect 42 industrial or commercial properties in the area of San Fernando Road, as flyover overpasses would need to be built to blend high-speed trains and current passenger operations. In addition, some maintenance operations would have to be removed from the relatively-new Metrolink maintenance yard north of the 110 Freeway.

For the future leg of high-speed rail, from Union Station to Anaheim, planners proposed a joint set of Metrolink, Amtrak and high-speed tracks along the current rail alignment, with tunnels proposed under residential neighborhoods in Fullerton.

Stations are proposed for Norwalk and Fullerton, and that line would connect the statewide system from Los Angeles to the futuristic new Anaheim Regional Transit Interconnection Center, near Anaheim Stadium.

No significant plans have been released yet for the branch of high-speed tracks east from Los Angeles through the Inland Empire, and south from there to San Diego.

Staff will provide the state’s High-Speed Rail Commission with an update on all this at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday at Arena Room 1 of the Anaheim Convention Center, near Disneyland. The agency notes there had been talk of an elevated high-speed tracks above Union Station, but said this week that Metro has plans now for a new “flow through” tracks at Union Station and over the 101 Freeway, to handle high-speed and Metrolink/Amtrak service to the south and east.

The shared-use tracks would affect 42 industrial or commercial properties in the area of San Fernando Road, as flyover overpasses would need t be built to blend high-speed trains and current passenger operations. In addition, some maintenance operations would have to be removed from the relatively-new Metrolink maintenance yard north of the 110 Freeway.

For the future leg of high-speed rail, from Union Station to Anaheim, planners proposed a joint set of Metrolink, Amtrak and high-speed tracks along the current rail alignment, with tunnels proposed under residential neighborhoods in Fullerton.

Stations are proposed for Norwalk and Fullerton, and that line would connect the statewide system from Los Angeles to the futuristic new Anaheim Regional Transit Interconnection Center, near Anaheim Stadium.

No significant plans have been released yet for the branch of high-speed tracks east from Los Angeles through the Inland Empire, and south from there to San Diego.

Staff will provide the state’s High-Speed Rail Commission with an update on all this at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday at Arena Room 1 of the Anaheim Convention Center, near Disneyland.

From a news item at:
http://www.dailynews.com/general-news/20160411/latest-plan-for-californias-high-speed-rail-calls-for-tunnel-into-san-fernando-valley


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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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POLITICAL LINES... Political Lines...  

New York MTA Leaves APTA
As Agency Member

From The Railway Gazette

The Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) in New York has discontinued its membership in the American Public Transportation Association (APTA).

In a letter dated April 8, the MTA’s Executive Leadership team says that it has reached a unanimous decision on its status as a Transit Member. The letter is signed by CEO Thomas Prendergast, New York City Transit President Veronique Hakim, Long Island Rail Road President Patrick Nowakowski, Metro-North Railroad President Joe Guilietti and MTA Bus President Darryl Irick.

Several reasons are behind the decision. The letter notes that the composition of the APTA Executive Committee contains no members representing legacy systems or commuter rail, which MTA says have their own ‘unique challenges’. Attention is also drawn to the geographical representation of the committee, and the fact that there are no Canadian representatives, who could provide technical and operation expertise. APTA’s ability to serve as a safety standards and compliance body was also seen as a factor by MTA.

The other main reason relates to the $400,000 annual membership fee, which MTA says ‘is not commensurate with the level and quality of the services’ received. The letter notes that other organizations, including the International Association of Public Transport (UITP, from the French: L’Union internationale des transports publics), meet the agency’s needs better, with a stronger message and greater potential for knowledge sharing, particularly in relation to the operation of complex main line rail services and the upkeep and renewal of legacy infrastructure. MTA cites the international ‘collaborative activities’ it undertakes with London Underground, RATP (Régie Autonome des Transports Parisie in France) and Network Rail, UK, and its strong relationship with Imperial College London’s Railway & Transport Strategy Centre.

Found at:
http://www.railwaygazette.com/news/news/n-america/single-view/view/new-york-mta-leaves-apta.html


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FREIGHT LINES... Freight Lines...  

CP Calls It Quits; Steps Away
From NS Merger

By William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief
Railway Age Magazine

On Monday, April 11, 2016, Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. terminated its efforts to merge with Norfolk Southern Corp.. This includes “withdrawal of a resolution asking NS shareholders to vote in favor of good-faith negotiations between the two companies,” CP sais. “No further financial offers or overtures to meet with the NS board of directors are planned at this time.”

CP said that it “proposed the creation of a true end-to-end railroad that would enhance competition, ease freight congestion now and into the future, improve service to shippers, better support the economy and generate significant shareholder value for both companies.”

“We have long recognized that consolidation is necessary for the North American rail industry to meet the demands of a growing economy, but with no clear path to a friendly merger at this time, we will turn all of our focus and energy to serving our customers and creating long term value for CP shareholders,” said CP CEO E. Hunter Harrison.

CP reiterated that it “has a proven approach—precision railroading—that delivers superior results for customers, employees, communities and shareholders. CP will continue to focus on providing the best service, controlling costs, optimizing assets, operating safely and developing the best team of railroaders in the industry.”

Norfolk Southern responded by saying the railroad’s board and management “are committed to enhancing value for shareholders. Since the company’s new management team was appointed, Norfolk Southern has been focused on implementing a strategic plan to streamline operations, reduce expenses and maintain superior customer service levels. The Norfolk Southern team has made significant progress and is on track to achieve annual productivity savings of more than $650 million and an operating ratio below 65% by 2020. We are confident the continued execution of our plan will deliver superior value to all of the company’s stakeholders by best positioning Norfolk Southern to succeed. We thank our shareholders for their input and support throughout this process and our employees for their hard work and dedication to strengthening Norfolk Southern as a critical component of the nation’s transportation infrastructure.”

[ Ed Note: Earlier, DF reported opposition to the proposed merger from various elected officials as well as Department of Defense objections associated with national security. ]

Found at:
http://www.railwayage.com/index.php/management/cp-ackman-call-it-quits.html?channel=44


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SAFETY LINES... Safety Lines...  

SEPTA To Begin PTC Roll Out Mid-April

By Mischa Wanek-Libman
Rail, Track, And Structures

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) will begin Provisional Revenue Service Operations for Positive Train Control following written authorization from the Federal Railroad Administration.

SEPTA will begin to implement PTC on the Warminster Regional Rail Line beginning with the first scheduled train on Monday, April 18.

“SEPTA has a strong commitment to safety and the introduction of the Advanced Civil Speed Enforcement System (ACSES) as a PTC compliant system on our Regional Rail network is an important milestone in our on-going efforts on behalf of our customers, employees, and neighbors,” the transit authority said in an update. “We are the first commuter railroad operation in the country to implement ACSES and an important part of our PTC rollout program will be continuing to work cooperatively with Amtrak regarding the operations of our trains, under ACSES, on [its] PTC equipped lines.”

SEPTA says getting to this point has taken an extensive and intensive period of testing to ensure that every aspect of the system meets the guidelines established by the FRA and the transit authority’s own reliability requirements for the safety system.

Shuttle buses will run in place of Warminster Line trains on Sunday, April 17 in order for SEPTA to conduct a final round of checks and testing of the PTC system and rail equipment.

Found at:
http://www.rtands.com/index.php/cs/septa-to-begin-ptc-roll-out-mid-april.html


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

Installments By David Beale
NCI Foreign editor

 

Epilog

Dispatch Controller In Center Of Deadly German
Passenger Train Collision Is Arrested

After Approximately Two Months Of Investigation, Interviews And Interrogations,
State Prosecutors File Criminal Charges In The Bad Aibling Train Crash Issue

Via Schäbische Zeitung Newspaper, dpa (Deutsche Presse Agentur)
And n-tv News Television

Munich: Police have arrested the railway controller who was on duty at the time of a deadly head-on collision of two regional passenger trains in Bad Aibling, Bavaria, which killed 11 people and injured about 85 others on the 9th of February. The man is being held in investigative custody, broadcaster n-tv reported on last Tuesday (12th of April).

Prosecutors from the Bavarian state Attorney General (AG) office have accused the DB Netz employee of having distracted himself by playing video games on his private mobile phone at the time of the crash, in which the two local trains collided head-on along a single track rail line outside Bad Aibling, southeast of Munich. He was arrested this past week and charged with gross negligence resulting in death, as well as negligent bodily harm and reckless damage of property.

Official investigations have found that the controller made several “tragic” operational mistakes which led to the disaster. He first allowed both trains to access the single-track line by setting two opposing signals to green, then when he realized his error, he pushed the wrong button, which alerted other train dispatchers, but did not send emergency stop orders directly to the two trains via the railroad’s digital wireless GSM-R data and voice network . His second emergency stop signal did go to the right train drivers, but investigators said it was by then too late to prevent the trains from colliding.

Station Office

Photo: BSZ newspaper and dpa.

View of the exterior of the small dispatch / control center for the rail line on which the collision took place. This dispatch center, located in the Bad Aibling train station, is fairly typical for many secondary and even some primary rail lines across Germany. The reason such dispatch centers are located directly in or next to passenger stations has much to do with the mechanical operation and control of both signals (mechanical semaphore signals) and track switches of several generations ago. Back at the time signals and track switches were moved and set mechanically with a system of push rods and/or cables and pulleys. As most of the signals and switches on such lines are located relatively close to rail stations, the control room was also located there to keep the length of the mechanical cables and/or push-rods to a minimum.

The news story generated intense interest all across Germany due in part to the aspect that this rail line had been retrofitted a few years earlier with PZB, a version of positive train control (PTC) installed on most German rail lines. Many in the general population were under the impression that the PZB system should have prevented such a collision. However the PZB positive train control system is really nothing more than an automated track signal “enforcer,” in other words PZB will automatically intervene to stop trains if they pass through a red signal or a yellow “caution” signal too fast. But if a signal is showing green, when in reality it should be showing yellow or red, PZB will not intervene, as PZB is not designed to cross-check the status of the track signal against some sort of decision logic which ensures the signal is displaying the correct light color at that point in time. That decision process is handled by human dispatch controllers and/or automated control logic in the network control centers.

Eventually PZB, which has been in use in Germany and a few other European rail networks for decades, will be replaced with the relatively new ERTMS / ETCS signaling, network control and PTC system, which includes better automation and interface between track signals, train detection circuits in the tracks and control of rail switches and interlockings. Unfortunately the completion date for installing ECTS across the complete German rail network continues to slip, and the original target date of 2019-2020 seems now to be unrealistic at the current rate of installation on various rail lines.


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EVENTS... Events...  

RUN To Boston - April 29

Registration Deadline - April 19 !

The Rail User’s Network (RUN) national conference will be in Boston, MA this year at the Boston Foundation, 75 Arlington Street - 10th Floor, (downtown), on Friday April 29, from 9:00 AM to 4:30 PM. Thanks to local and national sponsorship, there is no fee to attend this year. Rail advocates from all over will attend. The conference will offer insight into the state of affairs in rail in the six-state New England region.

Hear directly from the heads of agencies.

This year’s speakers and presenters include;

The Rail Users Network (RUN) is a national non-profit with a new concept in the representation of rail passengers. It is based on the successful British Passenger Focus model, created by act of the British Parliament, which has been serving passengers throughout the United Kingdom since 1948. RUN is different, however, in that it represents many different types of rail passengers, including long distance, commuter, and transit riders. It is not sanctioned by an act of Congress - but some of our representative groups are legislatively mandated by their respective states and municipalities, giving riders a seat “at the table,” and bringing the needs of rail users to the attention of those in charge.

Connect to the conference agenda at: http://www.railusers.net/index.php?link=conference

There is no fee to attend this year, but advance registration is REQUIRED by April 19 at: http://www.railusers.net/index.php?link=register

A continental breakfast and lunch will be provided.

An optional rail and transit tour of some of the MBTA’s services is being planned for the following day, Saturday, April 30 for those who elect to remain in Boston to participate. Details of that tour are under development.


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PUBLICATION NOTES...  Publication Notes...

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