The National Corridors Initiative Logo

May 30, 2017
Vol. 17 No. 21

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...

  Advocacy Lines…
White House Doubles Down On Cuts To Infrastructure
   Investment, Slashes Amtrak Routes And
   Transit Funding
  Expansion Lines…
MBTA Green Line Extension Project Has Released
   Request For Proposal For Design-Build Contract
SEPTA Regional Rail Extending Services To Wawa
   In Delaware County
  Passenger Lines…
Kids Ride Free On Metra This Summer, And
   Special Getaway Departures Friday
  Station Lines…
MBTA’s New Blue Hill Avenue Station Construction
   Will Impact Fairmount Line Service, Beginning Saturday, June 3
  Selected Rail Stocks…
  Maintenance Lines…
MTA Will Pay You $1M To Fix The Subways
  Funding Lines…
FTA Green-Lights Caltrain Electrification Funding
  Across The Pond…
Start-Up Intercity Train Operator Files For
   Bankruptcy After Five Months Of Service
First Italian-Built Train For GWR Set For
   December Delivery
  To The North…
Ontario To Bring High-Speed Rail To Canada’s
   Toronto-Windsor Corridor
Public Transportation Becoming Unreliable Or
   Extinct In Northern Ontario Says Lobby Group
  We Get Letters…
  Publication Notes …

ADVOCACY LINES... Advocacy Lines...  

White House Doubles Down On Cuts To Infrastructure Investment,
Slashes Amtrak Routes And Transit Funding

A Press Release From
Jim Mathews, President & CEO
National Association Of Railroad Passengers

The Trump Administration released a detailed budget proposal that guts funding to Amtrak’s long-distance trains, and slashes funding to key transit and transportation funding programs, threatening to accelerate the deterioration of physical infrastructure constricting economic growth in the U.S.

NARP is asking its members—and all rail and transit passengers everywhere—to hit back against this reckless proposal by writing their Senators and Representatives today!  You can do that by visiting:

Unfortunately, it appears the President Trump has abandoned his campaign promise to invest in our infrastructure and get Americans working again. This is a budget that treats small towns and rural communities as ‘flyover country.’ Instead of seeing citizens, it sees ‘a poor business case for investment.’ But we know that every American town deserves the tools to succeed, and the small business owner waiting at a station in Mississippi is no less important than a banker boarding an Acela in New York.

You can read more about NARP’s analysis of the bill on our website, at:  with line item breakdowns for each program.

Thank you for your support of America’s train network!

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EXPANSION LINES... Expansion Lines...  

MBTA Green Line Extension Project Has Released Request
For Proposal For Design-Build Contract

From An MBTA Press Release
Via The Somerville Times

The MBTA Green Line Extension (GLX) Project Team has released the Final Request for Proposal (RFP) for the GLX Design Build (DB) contract to the three shortlisted DB teams that were identified in February of this year. The Final RFP includes an Affordability Limit of $1.319 billion, base scope of work, and “Additive Options.” Additive Options will only be included in the project scope should teams affirm that the Options can be completed within both the Project schedule and the Affordability Limit. Responses to the Final RFP will be submitted by the three DB teams in September 2017.

“This step represents another major milestone for GLX as we move closer to the design and build phase of the project,” said Program Manager John Dalton. “The MBTA has been actively engaged in pre-proposal exchanges with the three teams pursuing the design-build contract and looks forward continuing that technical concept dialogue as each of the teams develop their responses to the Final RFP package being issued today. The base scope remains seven new stations, related track and infrastructure necessary for train service, a vehicle maintenance facility and multi-use community path. If market conditions allow, Additive Options will be included in the Design Build project scope”.

If a DB team believes that Additive Options can be included and keep within the MBTA’s cost and schedule for the project, the firm is directed to propose those Additive Options in the following order as prioritized by the MBTA:

  1. Platform canopies.
  2. Additional elevators at select stations.
  3. Public art.
  4. Additional community connection to the community path located on Chester Street in Somerville.
  5. Extension of the community path between East Somerville and Lechmere Stations.
  6. Enhanced Vehicle Maintenance Facility in Somerville.

The MBTA, in collaboration with stakeholders, established the prioritized list to meet its objectives of enhancing rider experience, community access, and operational improvements.

Price proposals for the competing DB teams must not exceed the established Affordability Limit of $1.319 billion, which is in keeping with the total GLX Program budget and is not to exceed $2.3 billion. For more information on the Green Line Extension Project, please visit the Project’s webpage at:

Found at:

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SEPTA Regional Rail Extending Services
To Wawa In Delaware County

Millions Will Go Toward Extending Media/Elwyn Line
And Positive Train Control Measures

By Dan Stamm
NBC Philadelphia

SEPTA is getting millions to extend regional rail service into Delaware County.

The $5.8 million in federal funds will restore the Media Elwyn Line about 3 miles further to Wawa, Pennsylvania, and implement and maintain positive train control (PTC), U.S. Rep. Patrick Meehan, R-Pa., and U.S. Senator Bob Casey, D-Pa., said in separate news releases.

“Passenger safety is the top priority of any transit system, and investments into state-of-the-art safety technologies can reduce accidents and make our families’ commutes to work and school safer,” Meehan said.

“Strong rail infrastructure keeps people safe and helps grow the economy,” Casey said. “Residents in Southeastern PA depend on SEPTA for reliable and safe service. This PTC grant will help the installation of the PTC safety technology and will help improve mapping software to make the regional rail fleet run more efficiently.”

PTC is an automated feature that slows speeding trains. It was not in place during the deadly derailment of Amtrak 188 in Philadelphia in May 2015.

“As the tragic 2015 crash of Amtrak Train 188 in Northeast Philadelphia showed, Positive Train Control is a system that can quite literally save lives. I’m pleased to see the federal government doing its part to support implementation of this system as SEPTA extends a commuter rail line that already carries more than 10,000 riders per day.”

SEPTA Board Chairman Pasquale Deon Sr. praised the expansion of PTC throughout the tri-state regional rail system.

“All 13 Regional Rail Lines are operating under PTC, and the PTC Grant will allow SEPTA to enhance the performance of the existing system,” Deon said. “Additionally, the grant ensures that this critical safety technology will be installed as part of the Elwyn to Wawa service restoration project. We are grateful to the members of our Congressional delegation for making sure this funding was included in the FY 17 appropriations bill.”

Something else SEPTA is hoping to implement in the next fiscal year is solar technology. The Board unanimously approved installation of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems at four SEPTA bus and rail shops.

Vendor SunVest Solar, Inc. will own, install and maintain the roof-mounted solar panels for the next 20 years at 2nd & Wyoming (bus maintenance, print & sign shop), Fern Rock (Broad Street Line rail shop), Callowhill (bus maintenance) and Roberts (regional railcars shop), SEPTA said.

“SEPTA is proud to step into a position of leadership among Philadelphia businesses in the strategic deployment of renewable energy on our system,” Deon said. “This project thoughtfully leverages an existing asset – roof space at maintenance facilities – to make SEPTA’s ongoing operations cleaner and more efficient.”

SEPTA’s goal is to reduce emissions by 20 percent by 2020.

“SEPTA’s award-winning Sustainability Program is taking yet another important step forward with the approval of this solar project,” SEPTA General Manager Jeff Knueppel said. “For years, SEPTA has been reducing energy consumption and emissions through initiatives such as hybrid-electric bus acquisition and LED lighting installation. This solar project, along with other exciting new initiatives such as a new fleet of battery-electric buses to arrive this fall, demonstrates SEPTA’s enduring commitment to environmental improvement.”

Read more at:

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PASSENGER LINES... Passenger Lines...  

Kids Ride Free On Metra This Summer,
And Special Getaway Departures Friday

By Howard Ludwig
DNAinfo.Com / Chicago

Children ages 11 and younger can ride Metra for free from Memorial Day — May  29 — through Labor Day — Sept. 4.

Up to three children can ride for free with a fare-paying adult as part of the summer promotion.

“Let Metra take you to great destinations this summer so you can spend more time with your family and less time worrying about traffic and parking,” said Don Orseno, Metra’s executive director and chief executive officer.

Metra will also offer early getaway service Friday so customers can get a head start on the holiday weekend. Most lines are adding and shifting trains to the early afternoon. For more information, visit Metra’s website at:


Photo: DNAinfo/Howard A. Ludwig

Up to three children can ride Metra for free this summer with a fare-paying adult from Memorial Day — May 29 — through Labor Day — Sept. 4.

The commuter rail service also extended its $8 unlimited ride Weekend Pass to include the upcoming Monday holiday. Metra will also operate on a Sunday/holiday schedule on Memorial Day, which means there will be no service on the North Central Service, Heritage Corridor and SouthWest Service Lines.

“Our $8 Weekend Pass and the fact that kids ride free all summer makes Metra the most affordable option,” Orseno said.

From an item at:

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STATION LINES... Station Lines...  

MBTA’s New Blue Hill Avenue Station Construction
Will Impact Fairmount Line Service,
Beginning Saturday, June 3

Last Of The Fairmount Line’s Infill Stations
To Start Construction Next Month

From An MBTA Press Release

Construction of the new Blue Hill Avenue Station on the Massachusetts bay Transportation Authority’s (MBTA) Fairmount Commuter Rail Line will take place on weekends and in the evening weekday hours beginning Saturday, June 3, for up to twenty-four months. During this time, weekend Fairmount Line trains will be replaced with dedicated shuttle buses between Morton Street station in the Mattapan neighborhood and Readville Station in the Hyde Park neighborhood, in both directions. Train service will be uninterrupted between Morton Street and South Station, in both directions. On weeknights, the last two outbound Fairmount Line trains from South Station will be replaced with dedicated shuttle buses serving all stops between South Station and Readville.

“When Blue Hill Avenue Station opens, Commuter Rail customers will be provided with a direct ride to downtown Boston in twenty minutes with no transfers needed,” said MBTA Acting General Manager Brian Shortsleeve. “These continued construction efforts on the Station signal the MBTA’s commitment to providing even more transportation options within the Mattapan area and continuing to improve the Fairmount Line.”

Beginning June 3 and continuing from start to end of service every Saturday and Sunday for up to twenty-four months, Fairmount Line trains will operate between South Station and Morton Street Station with substitute bus shuttle service replacing trains between Morton Street, Fairmount, and Readville Stations on a forthcoming published schedule.

Beginning Monday, June 5, and continuing every weekday for up to twenty-four months, the last two outbound-only Fairmount Line trains (Train Nos. 787 and 789 that depart at 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. respectively) will be replaced with dedicated bus shuttles from South Station, making all station stops.

The construction of Blue Hill Avenue Station is part of more than $200 million in Fairmount Line investments, including the opening of Talbot Avenue Station in 2012, the opening of Newmarket and Four Corners/Geneva Avenue Stations in 2013, bridge replacements, and significant rail and tie replacement work. As the ninth station on the Fairmount Line, Blue Hill Avenue Station will be located approximately six-and-a-half miles from South Station and a quarter mile from Mattapan Square, featuring a center-island platform and two covered, fully accessible pedestrian ramps. The Station’s construction contract was awarded to McCourt Construction in January 2017 in the amount of $16.97 million. Blue Hill Avenue Station is expected to open to Fairmount Line customers in 2019 after a two-year construction period.

[ Editor Note:  After years of negotiations with neighborhood abutters, the last of the Fairmount line’s infill stations will commence construction.  The station will be located on a broad section of the right-of-way that was formerly a freight marshalling yard.  This will allow the tracks to be spread apart sufficiently to allow for the construction of a center-boarding platform between Blue Hill Avenue and Cummins Highway, with entrance head houses on each end. ]

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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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MAINTENANCE LINES... Maintenance Lines...  

MTA Will Pay You $1M To Fix The Subways

By Danielle Furfaro
New York Post

Less than a week after the MTA announced its six-point plan to fix rampant delays in the subway system, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is telling the agency to look elsewhere for better ideas.

Cuomo told the MTA to hold a “Genius Award” contest to find the best ideas on how to overcome the seemingly unfixable subway problems of the ancient signal system, the aging fleet of cars, and the lack of cellular and Wi-Fi connections on trains and in tunnels.

The winner in each category will win $1 million, Cuomo announced on Tuesday.

“It is no secret the New York City subway system is in dire need of upgrades and repairs, not only for the safety of commuters and visitors throughout the metropolitan area, but in order to meet the demand of travelers as ridership continues to grow,” Cuomo said.

He pointed out at a press conference on Tuesday that transit experts claim it will take five years per line to get the signals replaced, which would equal more than 40 years to update the whole subway system.

“I will be dead in the next 40 years,” Cuomo said.

He acknowledged that the MTA’s current crisis of delays is the result of years of inattention to subway infrastructure.

“We were asleep at the switch for decades at the MTA,” said Cuomo.

The MTA will invite all those who want to compete in the contest to a conference next month where they will be briefed on the desperate details.

Some critics say the move shows that Cuomo doesn’t think the MTA has what it takes to fix the issues.

“It’s a hail Mary pass,” said Gene Russianoff, who is senior attorney for the Straphangers Campaign. “He’s hoping for a miracle to come rushing into the room.”

The head of the MTA, who reports to Cuomo, put out a statement in support of the contest.

“This is a competition that will put the best and brightest minds in technology from across the world to work for New Yorkers in improving the reliability of our transit system,” said MTA Executive Director Ronnie Hakim.

From a news item appearing at:

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FUNDING LINES... Funding Lines...  

FTA Green-Lights Caltrain Electrification Funding

By Mischa Wanek-Libman
Railway Age

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) intends to sign a Full Funding Grant Agreement with Caltrain that would commit $647 million to the Peninsula Corridor Electrification Project.

The grant is the final funding piece needed to move the $1.98-billion project forward. The electrification project aims to improve system performance by electrifying the Caltrain Corridor from San Francisco’s 4th and King Caltrain Station to approximately the Tamien Caltrain Station, convert diesel-hauled trains to Electric Multiple Unit trains and increase service of up to six Caltrain trains per peak hour per direction.

“Caltrain has worked for over two decades to plan this critical improvement. Over the last few years, more than $1.3 billion was secured from local, regional and state commitments and contracts were awarded to design and, eventually, construct the project. This agreement commits the final funding needed to start construction of a project that will transform and improve the way people travel along one of the region’s most congested corridors,” said Caltrain General Manager and CEO Jim Hartnett.

An FFGA was recommended in January following a full assessment of the project’s merits. However, the decision was delayed by the Trump Administration while the 2018 budget recommendations were being developed. Because of the delay in securing the FFGA, Caltrain struck an agreement with its contractors to extend the deadline from March 1 to June 30 for the contractors to begin construction of the PCEP. At the time of the negotiated extension, Caltrain said the additional time would likely require the utilization of up to $20 million in project contingency that otherwise would have been available for construction-related expenses in the future.

Following the announcement of the FFGA delay, Caltrain and its supporters launched an advocacy effort that encompassed both the private and public sector.

“This milestone is only possible because of widespread and vocal support from the communities we serve. Throughout this effort, Caltrain riders, businesses and residents throughout the region have been resolute in their support for a better Caltrain. We are very grateful and we look forward to rewarding those efforts by getting to work right away building the transit system this region deserves,” said Hartnett.

Unfortunately, the project has been the rope used in a tug-of-war among the state’s congressional delegation with a clear line of demarcation between the state’s Republican and Democratic representatives. The republicans opposed the federal funding based on the PCEP’s ties to the state’s high-speed rail project, while the democrats accused the GOP of holding up a job producing project through misleading claims.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), who pledged to oppose all U.S. Department of Transportation appointees until the funding was finalized, said, “This is exactly the type of infrastructure investment our country needs. Caltrain’s project is now ready to put 10,000 people to work across the country and bring to fruition a badly needed transportation improvement that enjoys nearly unanimous support throughout the Bay Area. This is a win for everyone involved.”

Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA-10) noted that the grant requires a state match that officials have indicated will come from Proposition 1A approved by voters for California’s high-speed rail project.

“Caltrain is not, nor will it ever be, ‘high speed’ and should not be funded with high-speed rail dollars... Providing this grant without first conducting an audit is irresponsible,” said Rep. Denham.

On September 6, 2016, Caltrain awarded contracts to Balfour Beatty to construct the electrification infrastructure and Stadler to manufacture high-performance electric trains. The first electric trains are anticipated to be in service at the end of 2020 or early 2021.

Found at:

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

Installments By David Beale
NCI Foreign Editor

Start-Up Intercity Train Operator Files For
Bankruptcy After Five Months Of Service

Berlin, Germany Based Locomore Ends Its Intercity
Passenger Rail Competition With Deutsche Bahn

Via AFP Press Service

Berlin-based rail startup Locomore was placed into bankruptcy administration just five months after it launched a challenge to state-owned monolith Deutsche Bahn, which dominates long-distance intercity passenger train travel in Germany.  A district court in Berlin-Charlottenburg confirmed back on the 12th of May that the firm had triggered the bankruptcy proceedings the day before.  All of Locomore’s rolling stock was parked and out of service by the end of the day of the 12th of May.


Photo: Hannoverische Allgemeine newpaper.

One of the two Locomore train consists as seen in Berlin’s Hauptbahnhof (central station) in early 2017 just before departure to Stuttgart with a number of intermediate stops including Wolfsburg, Hannover, Göttingen, Fulda, Frankfurt, Darmstadt and Heidelberg.  Locomore ceased operations by the end of the day on the 12th of May 2017.

Locomore was launched in mid-December 2016 as a low cost intercity passenger train service equipped with ex-Deutsche Bahn 1970s-era intercity (IC) and inter-regional (IR) locomotive-hauled coaches and lower fare prices than Deutsche Bahn.  The interiors of the 40-plus year-old passenger coaches were modernized, retrofitted with Wi-Fi / WLAN, at-seat power outlets for laptop PCs, and air conditioning.  Locomore rented several Siemens Euro Sprinter (DB Class 182) electric locomotives from Swedish freight train operator Hector Rail to haul the trains.  The top speed of the trains was limited to 200 km/h, as the four-decade old coaches have a maximum allowed design of 200 km/h (125 mph), compared to 240 – 280 km/h speeds Deutsche Bahn’s ICE trains can achieve on many parts of the Berlin – Stuttgart route.  Locomore offered one round trip per day between Berlin and Stuttgart, and had plans to expand to other lines, including Berlin – Munich.  The firm pointed to successful crowd-funding drives as evidence of demand for an alternative to the state-owned service.  Locomore had planned to expand significantly beyond the once per day Berlin – Stuttgart route, but has now gone bankrupt before those plans could be realized.  

But low bookings and maintenance problems meant it had to cut service to four days a week.  By early April, the firm said it had transported some 70,000 passengers and was already planning higher capacity and more frequent services for the future.  Deutsche Bahn still operates 99 percent of intercity passenger services in Germany, despite the sector being gradually liberalized starting back in 1994. Now the only significant competitors to DB in the intercity passenger rail segment are HKX (Hamburg – Köln Express), which operates in north western Germany between Hamburg and Cologne, and ALEX (formerly named Algäu Express), which operates several intercity rail routes out of Munich, including one route to Prague, Czech Republic.  Both independent intercity passenger rail operators have struggled in the past few years to remain in business and ALEX will lose nearly half of existing routes in 2020, when Deutsche Bahn will replace ALEX on routes between Munich and Obertsdorf as well as Munich – Lindau, due a decision by the Bavarian state government in 2016 to award these routes to Deutsche Bahn effective at the end of 2020.  

Competition in regional / local commuter passenger rail markets in Germany is far more intense, with German federal government owned Deutsche Bahn’s share of the commuter / regional rail market sliding to 72 percent in the recent past against numerous third party / independent alternative train operators according to specialist consultancy BSL.

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First Italian-Built Train For GWR
Set For December Delivery

By Keith Fender
International Railway Journal

Hitachi Rail Italy invited representatives of the media, Great Western Railway (GWR) and leasing company Eversholt Rail to its Pistoia plant on May 23 to view progress with the new fleet of class 802 inter-city trains for services from London to Devon and Cornwall.

Hitachi is assembling the trains at Pistoia using prefabricated body shell sections manufactured at the company’s Kasado plant in Japan. Bogies are being produced at the Hitachi Italy plant in Naples.


Image via IRJ

Under construction at the Hitachi Plant

The first two Italian-built class 802s are now being fitted out. Train 4 in the overall program utilizes body shells delivered complete from Japan whilst Train 5 is the first to use body shells welded at Pistoia.

Hitachi expect series production to take 45 days per train, although the first trains will take longer.

Hitachi plans to form and test the first Italian-built train between July and September in Pistoia, with delivery to Britain by December. All 32 remaining Italian-built trains are scheduled for delivery by December 2018 and GWR intends to fully introduce the fleet between January and March 2019, with HST operation of services from London to southwest England ending in early March 2019.

The class 802s are technically very similar to the IEP trains (class 800) being built by Hitachi for use by GWR, featuring the same design of seats, kitchens and most components. Key technical differences include the engine management software, which enables higher power output from the MTU diesel power packs, and newly-designed dynamic braking equipment specifically designed to cope with saltwater ingress on the coastal section of the route between Exeter and Newton Abbot.

The first three Class 802 trains were built at Kasado and two of them are now in transit by ship from Kobe to Southampton.

When they arrive in Britain next month the five-car trains will be moved by road to Doncaster for commissioning and approval testing.

The third Japanese-built class 802 train - a nine car set - will follow in July.

From an item appearing at:

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TO THE NORTH... To The North...  

Ontario To Bring High-Speed Rail To
Canada’s Toronto-Windsor Corridor

From Railway Technology

The Canadian province of Ontario is moving ahead with preliminary design plans and environment assessments for a new high-speed rail (HSR) corridor from Toronto to Windsor.

The new rail line is expected to support growth and create employment opportunities in the province’s south-western region.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and Ontario Minister of Transportation Steven Del Duca said that the province plans to invest C$15m ($11.1m) to carry out the comprehensive environmental assessment procedure.

The government will form a new governing body to supervise and manage the work required to design and implement HSR.

Wynne said: “Building high-speed rail along the Toronto-Windsor corridor isn’t just a game changer for south-western Ontario, it’s going to deliver benefits all along the line.”

“Seven million people live along the Toronto-Windsor transportation corridor; high-speed rail will get them where they need to be faster.”

The development was announced after Ontario special advisor David Collenette submitted a report on the feasibility of developing a high-speed rail network in the area.

The report noted that there is a business case for high speed rail along the Toronto-Windsor corridor, which also provides the opportunity to involve the private sector in the project’s financing and implementation.

High-speed rails can travel at speeds of up to 250km per hour, and the proposed line will reportedly use a combination of existing track and new, dedicated rail corridors.

Bidding requests to support the environmental assessment are planned to be issued this autumn.

The new HSR line will feature stops between Chatham, London, Kitchener-Waterloo and Guelph and Toronto, as well as a connection to Pearson International Airport.

From an item at:

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Public Transportation Becoming Unreliable Or
Extinct In Northern Ontario Says Lobby Group

Both The Federal And Provincial Governments Continue
To Rob From Peter In Order To Pay Paul, Resulting
In A Level Of Inequity Between The Needs Of Urban
And Rural Communities.

By BayToday Staff

The transportation lobby group, Northern & Eastern Ontario Rail Network (NEORN) says the provincial government is committed to supporting high-speed rail in southern Ontario while continuing to cut services in the north.

In a news release, the group points to the Liberal government at Queen’s Park announcement last week of a 21 billion dollar plan to develop a high-speed rail corridor between Toronto and Windsor.

“Meanwhile in Northern Ontario, the government refuses to address legitimate transportation challenges that exist in the region. In 2012, the Liberals axed the Northlander’s funding of 11 million. Residents in four districts no longer have train service to Southern Ontario. Federally, both the Conservatives (in 2014) and the Liberals (in 2016) revoked the Algoma Central train’s funding of 2.2 million.”

The release says 85% of this remote corridor has no publically maintained roads.

“Both the federal and provincial governments continue to rob from Peter in order to pay Paul, resulting in a level of inequity between the needs of urban and rural communities. Where’s Northern Ontario’s share of the pie?,” asks the group.

“Public transportation is becoming unreliable or extinct in northern Ontario. Northerners have been subjected to a number of recent reductions in the frequency or reliability of their train, bus and air services. People living in remote communities are unable to rely on VIA Rail’s Canadian, a service that is routinely four, eight, 12, 16 or even 20 hours late. Riders of VIA’s Sudbury-White River train are subjected to regular delays ranging from one to two and a half hours.”

NEORN says there are reports of travelers on Greyhound Canada’s motor coach service being left to fend for themselves in Wawa for nearly 24 hours on a bus without heat, subsequent to the closure of Highway 17.

Another traveler was reportedly left stranded for nine hours in Blind River because of another weather related closure of the Trans-Canada Highway.

“Queen’s Park and Parliament have announced billions of dollars to improve and expand GO train service to Bowmanville & Niagara Falls. The province subsidizes many millions annually to the operation of the Union-Pearson Express. The Northlander amounted to an investment of 86 cents per resident of Ontario. The federal contribution to the Northlander and Algoma Central services was a mere seven cents for every Canadian.”

For the original and to view user commentary see:

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WE GET LETTERS... We Get Letters...  

[ Editor notes - Newsday’s article entitled “Officials to Amtrak: Cease Control of Commute-Snarled Penn Station” which appeared here:
( )  has raised a few eyebrows in some circles. ]

Rail Commentator M. E. Singer Recently Offered
This Response To This Article.
As a frequently published pundit often challenging and attacking Amtrak under the well known title of “Rail Provocateur,” I have to confess my concern how Newsday has led the charge against Amtrak over the fiasco at Penn Station. You have indulged your readership by making Amtrak’s new CEO, Mr. Wick Moorman, a piñata to conveniently hit for everything that has happened to Penn Station, almost since it was destroyed by developers in 1963.  Frankly, I am amazed Newsday did not follow an investigative approach with a line of questioning well established by former U.S. Senator Howard Baker (R-TN) during the Watergate hearings. The essence of your investigation should have started with Amtrak’s own Board of Directors; to paraphrase Senator Baker, “when did you learn about Penn Station, and what did you do about it?  If you did not know, why not?” This relevant line of questioning should have been followed up with the line of management responsible for Penn Station and the Northeast Corridor long in place well before Mr. Moorman assumed the CEO hot seat in October, 2016. Did this chain-of-command appropriately, thoroughly, and timely report the situation into the C-Suite at Amtrak; did the past Amtrak CEO follow through by reporting this information into Amtrak’s Board of Directors? Is there a paper trail of communiqués, agendas and minutes from the line of management to the Executive Management and Board of Directors meetings that discussed the subject and provided direction? What did Amtrak’s own OIG state in its reports, if anything?

The investigation should clearly identify the levels and longevity of management and supervision impacting Penn Station.  Significantly, where are those people now? Has Mr. Moorman been allowed by the Board to swiftly deal with the people responsible for Penn Station’s failure, or, are they considered by the Board as untouchables and favored to move-up in the ranks once Mr. Moorman leaves?  Given the extent of a failed safety culture inherited by Mr. Moorman, if any level of management is beyond approach and protected by the Board, the employees will see such a gesture as more of the same, with the Board seriously under-cutting Mr. Moorman’s authority and scope to successfully introduce meaningful change to the organization. If that is the case, the media failed by not explicitly understanding the actual issues.  Caveat-if the media barrage succeeds in forcing Mr. Moorman to prematurely return to Virginia before changing the problematic Amtrak corporate milieu, the media will have only accomplished hammering another nail into Amtrak’s coffin.  

With Mr. Moorman gone, the Board will put into place their favorite old hands to run Amtrak, just as they did when they forced out their last competent CEO will real railroading experience, Mr. David Gunn. From that time (2005) until Mr. Moorman came out of retirement in October, 2016 (with no salary), Amtrak was adrift, leaderless; in financial duress, and lacking political respect. Losing the critical leadership of Mr. Moorman will simply allow Amtrak to quickly regress back into its prior state of no accountability, poor safety, payroll defalcation, a questionable bonus structure, and a ‘CYA’ culture of any semblance of good management eagerly counting down their days until retirement. It is conceivable that this was the plan all along to walk Mr. Moorman into the Penn Station quagmire, deplete his authority, and force him out. Those passed over for the coveted top spot could have choreographed this scenario with the consent of their supporters on the Board; with knives drawn to their side just awaiting the opportunity to finalize their coup.  Would it not be ironic if the most senior management officers directly responsible for the Northeast Corridor and Penn Station are the ones who directly benefit from any premature departure of Mr. Moorman..?

Given this background, it is interesting how the Russian experience with infrastructure produced a poignant single word for their projects that dragged on forever and were never completed: “Dolgostroi.” The virulent editorial in Newsday, “Amtrak Is Still On The Wrong Track At Penn Station” (30 Apr) and today’s article, “Officials to Amtrak: Cease Control of Commute-Snarled Penn Station” (12 May) hammered Amtrak’s CEO, Wick Moorman, despite his entering the scene only in October, 2016. The editorial staff and writers of Newsday would have better served their readership by catching either the “B” or “Q” subway from Manhattan to the Russian émigré enclave in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, to expand their knowledge by learning of “dolgostroi” American-style; how it clearly implicates the regional and municipal politicians of both parties over the Northeast Corridor (NEC). There are some very salient historical and political points to understand, including:

Contrary to diminishing the respected experience record of Amtrak’s new CEO, Mr. Wick Moorman, who rose thru the ranks of the Norfolk Southern and knows more about track infrastructure than your politicians and media, you should be thankful that he understands what must be done now. For those who have any semblance of an idea of the history to this problem will acknowledge how it goes back to 1976 when your regional political power bloc foisted the Northeast Corridor upon Amtrak, but without the requisite investment of funding to maintain and improve the infrastructure. Yet, now you line-up to blame Amtrak, eh? As you apparently expect the nation to pick-up the tab of $38-$52 Billion to bring the NEC into good repair, the taxpayers west of the Potomac would like to know for how long has the Northeast attempted to simply live off of the capital investment initially made by the New Haven and Pennsylvania Railroads between 1907-1935? Another contributing factor to the excessive deferred maintenance inherited by Amtrak is how the privately-owned New Haven and Pennsylvania Railroads were overly encumbered thru the 1960s by excessive taxes from every jurisdiction in the region, rigid state regulations over commuter fares, and federal regulations impeding their competitiveness.

In the same vein, where has the Northeast-focused Amtrak Board of Directors been since 1976 when the Northeast Corridor was dropped on Amtrak? Why was the case never cogently made by the Board to Congress, fronted by the FRA and USDOT, to either fund the remediation of the infrastructure, or, let the federal government keep the Corridor? Instead, Amtrak apparently made the internal decision, with the consent of its Board, to re-direct funds that were annually bled from the national network to float the NEC.  Indeed, the governors of the states served by the NEC were only too happy to remain mum, as their commuter trains widely benefited from a free ride on Amtrak’s Corridor since 1976 (a far better payoff than the Monopoly card, “Take A Ride On The Reading.”) Although state commuter lines were required to make payment to Amtrak initially by the Passenger Rail Investment & Improvement Act of 2008 (PRIIA), Amtrak deferred collection in an apparent play to its Northeast political patronage base, until directly mandated by Congress in December, 2015.  Coupled to that financial equation, how would this funding issue for the NEC been better resolved had the Passenger Rail Investment & Improvement Act of 2008 required the states served by the Northeast Corridor to contribute for their trains based upon the same Amtrak derived full cost allocation methodology used for all the other states, instead of free loading? What would the NEC passenger rail infrastructure bank look like today under different political circumstances?

Frankly, well before Super Storm Sandy enhanced the deterioration of the Hudson River tunnels in 2012, it was quite obvious of the need for their replacement after almost 100 years; yet, the nation as a whole has been dragging its heels on infrastructure since the 1980s to keep taxes artificially low. But why was their such a lax mentality by the Northeast region’s federal, state, and municipal politicos towards relieving such a singular economic bottleneck for their region, as identified by Penn Station? Indeed, the imbedded political issues and waste inherently contributing to your region’s “dolgostroi” thru your NY/NJ Port Authority (PANYNJ) are well known west of the Hudson. Even now, PANYNJ ignores Penn Station; electing instead to line-up a $57 Million consultant study to extend PATH to Newark Liberty Airport. Another dose of reality is the multi-tiered priorities of Governor Cuomo (D-NY) for re-building LaGuardia, a tunnel between Penn Station-Grand Central (originally killed by Governor Pataki), expanding new 2nd Avenue subway, repairing “L” and “R” subway lines from Hurricane Sandy, a new Port Authority bus terminal; new Tappan Zee and Kosciuszko bridges; perhaps even a replacement for Carnegie Deli.

Interestingly, how the elite Northeast media and its powerful politicos deliberately elected to forgo the fact that the Northeast Corridor conveniently ignores basic GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles) by falsely claiming “profitability” before infrastructure costs are included. Convinced how the Northeast Corridor’s “profits” were shifted to subsidize the national system of (falsely alleged empty) long distance trains, your region’s federal politicos succeeded to recently shear off and isolate the Northeast Corridor to allow it to stand on its own. Apparently, nobody looked at the books to understand how the Corridor’s excessively high infrastructure and overhead costs have been historically dumped into and amortized across the national system. Immediate questions rise to the surface now that  the eastern political puppet masters have detached the NEC, where will the NEC overhead costs be dumped; where will the NEC derive its funding for infrastructure? So, what’s the next hand to play, given that even now, NJT and LIRR fail to pay their fair share of costs at Penn Station?

Digesting these salient points so conveniently masked to be forgotten is to respect a caveat to the media and politicos of the Northeast from former U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas, who exclaimed in 2003, “Either we commit to dramatically improving rail for the entire country or we abandon the pretense of a national system and turn it over to the states and private companies. Our motto for passenger rail is National or Nothing!” In view of these facts supporting the multi-year shaft of the long distance and state-supported passenger rail routes, it could be recommended now for a formula to be attained to fund the long distance and state-supported services as well; allowing those sectors to keep their actual profits in lieu of sending to support the Northeast Corridor. Due to the politics, lack of factual financial data, and grand-standing, the federal politicians of the Northeast may have lit the match to Balkanize passenger rail services, with significant financial impact on the states served by the Northeast Corridor.

In essence, your conflicting political problems are incorrectly laid off on Amtrak’s new CEO, when for the past nine years how a non-railroad Amtrak CEO was tolerated--from NY state. As well, Amtrak and its customer base has not been well served by the perpetual Northeastern domination of Amtrak’s Board of Directors, with a cavalier wink and slap on the back from their region’s politico and media supporters.

Thank You

Rail Provocateur
M.E. Singer

[ The views and opinions of the writers in our letters section are those of the writers and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of NCI or Destination: Freedom. We present these words in recognition of the many voices seeking to be heard in the rail and transit advocacy sector. - Ed]

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